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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 247 pages of information about The Scarlet Letter.
of mankind, with a special reference to the New England which they were here planting in the wilderness.  And, as he drew towards the close, a spirit as of prophecy had come upon him, constraining him to its purpose as mightily as the old prophets of Israel were constrained, only with this difference, that, whereas the Jewish seers had denounced judgments and ruin on their country, it was his mission to foretell a high and glorious destiny for the newly gathered people of the Lord.  But, throughout it all, and through the whole discourse, there had been a certain deep, sad undertone of pathos, which could not be interpreted otherwise than as the natural regret of one soon to pass away.  Yes; their minister whom they so loved—­and who so loved them all, that he could not depart heavenward without a sigh—­had the foreboding of untimely death upon him, and would soon leave them in their tears.  This idea of his transitory stay on earth gave the last emphasis to the effect which the preacher had produced; it was as if an angel, in his passage to the skies, had shaken his bright wings over the people for an instant—­at once a shadow and a splendour—­and had shed down a shower of golden truths upon them.

Thus, there had come to the Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale—­as to most men, in their various spheres, though seldom recognised until they see it far behind them—­an epoch of life more brilliant and full of triumph than any previous one, or than any which could hereafter be.  He stood, at this moment, on the very proudest eminence of superiority, to which the gifts or intellect, rich lore, prevailing eloquence, and a reputation of whitest sanctity, could exalt a clergyman in New England’s earliest days, when the professional character was of itself a lofty pedestal.  Such was the position which the minister occupied, as he bowed his head forward on the cushions of the pulpit at the close of his Election Sermon.  Meanwhile Hester Prynne was standing beside the scaffold of the pillory, with the scarlet letter still burning on her breast!

Now was heard again the clamour of the music, and the measured tramp of the military escort issuing from the church door.  The procession was to be marshalled thence to the town hall, where a solemn banquet would complete the ceremonies of the day.

Once more, therefore, the train of venerable and majestic fathers were seen moving through a broad pathway of the people, who drew back reverently, on either side, as the Governor and magistrates, the old and wise men, the holy ministers, and all that were eminent and renowned, advanced into the midst of them.  When they were fairly in the marketplace, their presence was greeted by a shout.  This—­though doubtless it might acquire additional force and volume from the child-like loyalty which the age awarded to its rulers—­was felt to be an irrepressible outburst of enthusiasm kindled in the auditors by that high strain of eloquence which was yet reverberating

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